Vegan Protein For Bodybuilding – Why It Makes Sense.
When it comes to bodybuilding, there is a lot of debate about the most effective way of eating and supplementing. But there is one thing for certain: to build muscle. You need to be consuming a high protein diet.
In recent years, many athletes and bodybuilders have turned to a vegan diet for a clean way of eating. There are many reasons for this; primarily, it is beneficial for the environment, and you avoid the potentially damaging hormones found in animal products.
You could be thinking that it cannot be possible to build muscle on a vegan diet due to the lack of bioavailable protein in plant foods. And you could be right. While protein can be found in plant-based foods such as lentils and chickpeas, they are less bioavailable than those found in meat.
Therefore, if you are eating a plant-based diet, you need to supplement a high-quality vegan protein powder to make you are getting sufficient protein. If you get your macros right on a high protein vegan diet, you might discover that you have more energy, you recover quicker, and you keep hitting new peaks in your performance.
Perhaps it’s time to embrace vegan bodybuilding by ditching out the whey protein for plant-based protein. If you are looking for a quality, all-natural vegan protein powder, I recommend National Bodybuilding Co. Full Prep Vegan Protein.
Benefits of Being a Vegan Bodybuilder
The health concerns about dairy are on the rise. Some research suggests that dairy is damaging to the heart and digestive health and may even increase cancer risk.
Eating a vegan diet is healthy and beneficial to the environment. So long as you are getting enough protein as a vegan bodybuilder, you will see muscle gains and stay lean.
The benefits of vegan bodybuilding include:
Reduction of Digestive Stress
Dairy causes digestive stress for many people. Milk is full of growth hormones and fat made to transform a baby calf into a cow. The fact of the matter is, most humans would feel better if they removed it from their diet.
Whey and casein protein powders come with the risk of side effects such as excess gas, bloat, and low energy throughout the day.
If you want to feel your best during and after your workout, you need a source of protein that is easily digestible and free from allergens. High-quality vegan protein powders will give you the clean protein you need.
Vegan bodybuilding is more sustainable for the planet and ethical. Production of vegan protein uses less fuel, water, and land than animal protein sources. (1)
If you are eating a healthy vegan diet including plenty of protein intake, you should notice quicker recovery, less inflammation and pain, and more energy during your workout and throughout the day.
Eating a high protein vegan diet is also good for your gut health. In one study, vegans were shown to have few pathobionts in their gut-microbiota, with greater levels of protective species and less inflammation. (2)
On the other hand, meat and dairy often contain harmful chemicals and antibiotics which are damaging to your health. The only other way to avoid this is to exclusively eat grass-fed meat, which is very expensive!
Vegan protein sources come from a variety of sources, each of which has its own benefits. Vegan proteins can contain vitamins and minerals, probiotics, fatty acids, and fiber. For example, soy protien contains zinc, iron, calcium, and B-vitamins. (3)
Whey Protein vs. Vegan Bodybuilding
Whey is an animal protein that is derived from milk. It contains branched-chain amino acids such as isoleucine, leucine, and valine used for muscle building. They have good bioavailability and can help you to build muscle mass through protein synthesis, especially when taken post-workout.
Whey can be a great supplement if you don’t suffer any of the nasty side effects of whey. There are many great flavors, although you should be cautious for heavily processed products with lots of artificial ingredients, as this depletes the nutritional value.
Of course, for many people, the dairy industry’s devastating effects and other animal products are enough for them to look for alternatives. Thus vegan athletes and vegan bodybuilding are on the rise.
Plant-based proteins such as soy, hemp, pea, and rice are great alternatives. One 2013 study showed that brown rice protein was equal to whey in improving strength and recovery. (4) You are unlikely to experience any negative side effects of vegan protein, and they are usually created with naturally sourced ingredients.
However, it is important to consider that whey has all of the necessary essential amino acids for muscle building, which is difficult to source from one plant. For vegan bodybuilders to see gains in muscle mass, they should supplement with a vegan protein powder containing plant-based protein from more than one source.
How to Be a High Protein Vegan
Vegan bodybuilding requires the same protein intake per day to build muscle successfully. On average, you need around 0.8 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. (4). Potentially more, if you are really active.
This works out to around 25 grams of protein per meal. Optimal macronutrient percentages should also include around 25-30% calories from protein. Because protein sources from plant sources are often carb-heavy, it can be difficult for vegan bodybuilders to make sure their macros are on point.
It is much easier to eat a balanced diet for vegan bodybuilding with a plant-based protein shake.
You should also include plenty of vegan protein sources into your diets, foods like black beans, lentils, nut butters, soy milk, and oats. Fruit and veg, especially green veg like broccoli, will help your body to absorb plant-based protein.
We also recommend supplementing with a vitamin B12 supplement, or a fortified food containing B12 such as nutritional yeast. B12 is a common deficiency and has many health benefits. Omega-3 can also be difficult to source from vegan foods, we also recommend a vegan Omega-3 supplement.
Top 3 Vegan Bodybuilding Protein Powders
#1 National Bodybuilding Co. Full Prep Vegan Protein
Our top choice for vegan bodybuilding is National Bodybuilding Co. Full Prep Vegan Protein. It is our top pick because it offers a full profile of essential amino acids by using pea and rice protein sources. You should experience more muscle growth, faster and fuller recovery, and a quicker metabolism to help you burn fat.
It has been designed for vegan bodybuilders and gym-goers to promote protein synthesis and muscle growth. The formula is clinically dosed and well researched to provide 25 grams of protein per serving.
Organic Pea Protein (12,5g) – sourced from yellow split peas, pea is an effective and healthy source of protein that promotes fullness and cardiovascular health. (5) (6) Pea protein is especially rich in essential amino acids.
Organic Rice Protein (12,5g) – Rice protein is low in calories, making it great for staying lean. Studies show that rice protein is as effective as whey at increasing muscle mass.
#2 Performance Lab Sport Protein
SPORT Protein Oryzatein® is made for vegan bodybuilding. It is an organic brown rice protein drink with 20 grams of protein per serving.
It is made using natural enzymes and low heat, enabling the leucine to absorb 30% faster than whey.
The natural flavoring, including vanilla bean, yacon root, cinnamon, monk fruit, organic cocoa, and stevia, gives this product a unique taste that many users love.
#3 Gaspari Nutrition Proven Vegan
Gaspari Nutrition Proven Vegan is a soy-free, organic, non-GMO, protein powder for vegan bodybuilding. It contains 22 grams of protein per serving.
A high-quality vegan supplement sourced from brown rice, pea protein, and hemp seed. This is a complete protein source that contains all of the essential amino acids.
Many of the reviews mention how impressed they were by the great taste.
- David Pimentel, Marcia Pimentel, Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 78, Issue 3, September 2003, Pages 660S–663S.
- Glick-Bauer, M.; Yeh, M.-C. The Health Advantage of a Vegan Diet: Exploring the Gut Microbiota Connection. Nutrients 2014, 6, 4822-4838.
- Montgomery KS. Soy protein. J Perinat Educ. 2003 Summer;12(3):42-5. doi: 10.1624/105812403X106946. PMID: 17273351; PMCID: PMC1595159.
- Joy, Jordan M et al. “The effects of 8 weeks of whey or rice protein supplementation on body composition and exercise performance.” Nutrition journal vol. 12 86. 20 Jun. 2013, doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-86.
- Layman, Donald K et al. “Defining meal requirements for protein to optimize metabolic roles of amino acids.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 101,6 (2015): 1330S-1338S.
- Sara María Martínez-Sánchez, José Antonio Gabaldón-Hernández, Silvia Montoro-García, Unravelling the molecular mechanisms associated with the role of food-derived bioactive peptides in promoting cardiovascular health, Journal of Functional Foods, Volume 64, 2020, 103645.
- Smith, C., Mollard, R., Luhovyy, B., & Anderson, G. (2012). The effect of yellow pea protein and fibre on short-term food intake, subjective appetite and glycaemic response in healthy young men. British Journal of Nutrition, 108(S1), S74-S80.